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Husted Plumbing Blog

Does Rust Mean Your Water Heater Is Finished?

rusted-water-heaterYour home’s water heater is made of steel. What’s the biggest weakness of steel? Corrosion. Specifically, when it comes to a water heater, rust. The steel of a water heater is no match for rust once it gets a grip.

But manufacturers of water heaters design their products to resist rust for years. Rust can still occur, often when a water heater is extremely old, such as 20 years or more. But even younger water heaters may rust because of negligence. (This is another friendly reminder to have annual inspections and maintenance for your water heater.)

The conventional wisdom is that when rust appears on a water heater, the water heater is done. Time for a new water heater installation in Oxnard, CA. But is this always true? Let’s look at your water heater and find out.

Rusty color in the hot water

If you believe your water heater has rust because of discoloration in your home’s hot water, you need to find out the source of the rust. If it is due to rust in the water heater, you almost certainly need to have the water heater replaced. When the water heater puts rust into your hot water supply, then the water heater’s tank has fully rusted and must go.

But the discoloration in the water may be due to the hot water pipes, not the water heater. This is a likely possibility if you live in an older home with galvanized steel pipes. Pipes this old will begin to rust, and when that rust appears in your water, it’s a sign to have repiping. Call a plumber to inspect the pipes and the water heater to see where the issue is and what needs to be replaced.

Rust on the heat exchanger

The heat exchanger is the section at the bottom of the water heater tank where the heat from the combustion gas transfers into the water to raise its temperature. A heat exchanger may corrode because of years of contact with vapor in the combustion gas. If only the heat exchanger rusts, it can be replaced rather than the entire water heater. Don’t delay on this service, since cracks in a heat exchanger can lead to carbon monoxide leaks.

Rust on the pressure relief valve or water inlet

These are external signs of rust inside the water heater. It may not look like much to see rust in these spots, but it often means extensive interior tank rust—and time for a water heater replacement.

A rusted water heater often can’t be salvaged

With a few exceptions, once rust starts eating away at a water heater, replacement is the best option. Rust leads to leaks and more rust, and when it’s due to the age of the system, it is as good a sign as any that the water heater’s service life is over. Time for a fresh beginning—and our experts can help you find the right new water heater.

At Husted Plumbing, we treat our customers like family. Call us for water heater service in the Greater Santa Barbara and Ventura County Area.

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